Highlights from Marina Abramovic’s First Workshop
Text by INTERWEAVE for MAI
PHOTOS BY NATALIA TSOUKALA and PANOS KOKKINIAS
Friday, March 11th – 2016
It is March 11th, the day after As One’s opening day and Marina Abramovic is leading the first of two workshops that she will conduct during the As One exhibition. The workshop is three-hours long and is held in the Benaki Museum’s auditorium: Abramovic is going to talk with eight Greek artists, exploring ways and ideas to develop their work.
It is 4.00’ pm/ GTM + 2, half an hour before the workshop begins and the Auditorium is already full of people.
After a small introduction by Elina Kountouri, the director of NEON, Marina Abramovic comes on stage, pointing out:
“This workshop is actually an open masterclass and the reason for this is my incredible wish to explain to everybody, especially to larger audiences, that the performance art is a serious business”.
To continue, she describes the process that the workshop is going to follow: each artist will be presenting his/her work for ten minutes; then, there will be a ten-minute discussion among the artists, Marina Abramovic herself and the audience - who are free to interact both with the artists and Marina by asking questions, because, as she says “The public right now does not want to look at things, the public wants to experience things, to be part of them.”
She begins by inviting the audience to breathe deeply in order to feel calm and be in a ”here and now” state. Then she yields the floor to the the artists.
The first artist: Georgia Damianou, presents her work on exploring communication, bodily distribution and audience’s reactions. After her short-length presentation, Marina Abramovic gives her some advice on how to communicate with the public, while putting her in the center of the stage:
“Talk directly to the public, feel and receive their energy by looking them in the eyes. Do not be afraid of them – they can feel it, like a dog smells one’s fear.”
Τhe second artist: Paris Legakis, a performance artist and a theorist, points out that he is interested in the individual, the political and the social body.
After the ten-minute presentation of his work, Marina Abramovic shares with the public what she felt during his performance by concluding that:
“In performance art everything is real: the exhaustion, the blood or the knife. There is no acting. In theatre, blood is ketchup; In performance is real blood.”
The third artist: Nikolaos, performance artist and one of As One’s interventional performance artists says that his work is on how to deal with pain through meditation. “Pain is not your enemy; It is here to teach you, to protect you, to make you stronger.”.
Following up the presentation of his work, Marina Abramovic talked about the importance of the concept of pain performance art - and its relationship with the human body:
“Body is the place where things can happen. Our body gives us a huge potential to create a different state of mind.”
The fourth artist: Eliane Roumie, dancer and performer, presents her work on the true self (our true, inner self) versus the ideal self (the self that we idealize in order to cope with everyday life). After the presentation of her work, Marina Abramovic is wondering about the fact that Eliane Roumie chooses to work on a different character and not on herself, to conclude:
“All these characters come from you. It’s you, all the way.”
The fifth artist: Theodore Frantzeskos, a young actor and performer who had the chance to also work with Bob Wilson, comes on stage with another actor, Paris Paskevadis, reciting a text with background music.
After the presentation of their work, Marina Abramovic talks for several minutes about Bob Wilson and how he helped her to evolve. Amongst all, she says that “Bob Wilson taught me how to stand on stage”. And then, one of the workshop’s highlights follows: Abramovic points out that the work presented by the two artists seemed more like theatre rather than performance art. She takes the one of two artists on her back, to show him how to recite the text in order to sound and be real. Then, she encourages the two artists to imitate the position she previously had and repeat the text again and again, without music.
“Let’s try your piece in this position, without music. Now you are not talking like in theatre. Make yourselves the piece. Tell the story stronger!”
The sixth artist: Vera Papadopoulou, a director and performance artist, uses performance as a way making movies. After her presentation, Marina Abramovic makes several comments on the abundance of the elements that coexist in the material displayed during her presentation, to finally conclude that simplicity in performance art is a virtue. “Less is better”, she says.
The seventh artist: Yannis Tsigris, a dancer and a choreographer, presents his work on the physical body and its ability to generate movements. The artist took questions and the discussion revolved around body awareness. In the end, Marina Abramovic talked about the difference between the performance body and the dancer body.
“People who do performance have a terrible awareness of the body - our body is a mess because we do not work with the body, we work with the will power”.
The eighth artist: Stratos Apostolatos, choreographer, presents his work in a different, interactive way. With his principal quote “we create who we are”, he invites the audience to interact with each other and with the people on stage.
At the end of the workshop the audience is invited on stage for a photo with Marina Abramovic sharing also altogether, a big loud scream.
NEON + MAI | As One
March 10 - April 24, 2016
Benaki Museum, 138 Pireos St. Athens, Greece